WINNIPEG — There was a prominent absentee at this year’s Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s annual Kavod Award evening on May 23.
Sadly, Richard Tapper, the scheduled recipient of the Harry Silverberg Young Leader of Distinction Award, was unable to keep the date, as a life full of promise had just a few days earlier been cut short in a losing battle with colon cancer. Tapper was just 35.
Tapper was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on New Year’s Eve. Despite the grim diagnosis, he tried to live his life as normally as possible almost to the end.
Bob Freedman, the federation’s executive director, said that just two weeks before he died, Tapper gave a lecture while fighting through pain.
“I have learned that the more you give, the more you serve, the more you receive,” Tapper told The CJN during an earlier interview. “It’s not the money, the houses, the cars and the clothes that most people remember. What sticks with you are the moments when you have been able to change people’s lives.”
“Richard was involved in all aspects of our community,” Freedman said. “He had been a member of our board and a canvasser for the CJA [Combined Jewish Appeal] for several years. He was involved in young leadership development. He was a significant donor to our campaign. And, at 34, he was the youngest signer of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s Endowment Book of Life. He met and surpassed the critera for the Harry Silverberg Award.”
In signing the Book of Life, Tapper noted that “my generation needs to grab hold of Jewish life in our community and help build a meaningful future steeped in Yiddishkeit, creativity, and pride. I want my infant son and all of his peers to benefit from vibrant institutions like I did.”
The eulogies at his funeral were delivered by close friends Jordan Farber and David Minuk.
“It was hard to sum up in 10 minutes everything that Richard accomplished in 35 years,” Minuk said. “He was one of the most positive individuals that I have ever known. It was hard to be sad when he left us so many good memories.”
Tapper, the son of Bernie and Leya Tapper, graduated from Winnipeg’s Jewish school system. He demonstrated leadership ability early in life as a camper, councillor and planner at Camp Massad and as a madrich for the Grade 12 Israel program for two years.
Tapper’s decision to pursue a chiropractic career was inspired by the example of his mother, who turned her own disabilities into a life of service to others, and it was a life of service to others that was his guiding principle.
As a chiropractor, Tapper built up a thriving practice with innovative techniques. He was a leader among the new breed of practitioners who emphasized healthy living through exercise and diet alongside spinal adjustments.
He also contributed to two books: Tired of Being Sick Tired: Wisdom for Health and Healing, in which chiropractors share their experiences and testimonials on the powerful benefits of chiropractic care, and In Service, a compendium of examples of community service
from all over North America.
“Richard worked hard and treated everybody with respect,” Minuk said.
In addition to his parents, Tapper is survived by his wife, Lauren, his infant son, Gabriel, and his sister, Heather.
Freedman said the Harry Silverberg Award will be presented to Tapper’s family at next year’s Kavod evening, as the family was still sitting shiva when the awards were presented May 23.